Is Saturated Fat Bad?
We’ve been hammered for decades with the “fact” that saturated fat is bad for us. So, terrified of heart attacks and strokes, we dutifully took the skin off our chicken and switched to skim milk. What if the opposite is true and we need saturated fat to stay healthy? Many doctors and studies are reaching that conclusion. Boomers and seniors who have limited their saturated fat intake may want to talk to their doctors and not shy away from the meat and cheese sections at the supermarket.
Saturated Fat and Metabolism
A little science here; saturated fat has two vital functions: 1. fats are used to form our cell walls 2. It’s our main source of energy. When you eat saturated fat; it gets transferred to muscles and burnt to create energy then the excess is used to make cell walls. We obviously have lots of cells and in order to function, move and exercise and we need to make lots of energy. So, we need to eat saturated fat.
This created very efficient metabolisms for when we were being chased by saber-toothed tigers on the savannah epochs ago. Then, about 10,000 years ago, a new food was introduced into human diets: refined grains like breads and cereals. As food became more industrialized, the grains became processed into refined simple carbohydrates. Studies have shown that eating a lot of simple carbs makes our metabolic system inefficient resulting in not being able to properly process the fats. What happens then is the fat doesn’t get directed to the muscle, doesn’t get burnt, and because it has to compete with the other fuel source you are consuming (i.e. the simple carbs), the fat gets stored as fat.
Do I Have to Give Up Bread and Pasta?
I’m not a doctor or nutritionist so I’m not advocating you give up anything. But maybe you want to experiment with substituting more saturated fats from meat, fish, even coconut s well as leafy green and other vegetables – complex carbs – instead of simple carbs like bread, pasta, and cereal. Here are some tips:
- Go slowly – maybe start with one meal like breakfast. Have hard boiled eggs or an omelet (eggs are OK now!) or yogurt instead of toast or a bagel
- Eat high quality fats – buy organic chicken, meat without hormones and wild caught fish whenever possible.
- Try something new like virgin coconut oil. I use it in stir frys – it has a smooth consistency and is great for you. It doesn’t have an overpowering coconut taste.
- “Check in” with yourself after a week or two. Do you feel better? Have more energy? Feel satisfied longer after eating?
Why not throw in a little exercise which also speeds up your metabolism!
By Betsy LaMond